105-year-old among 55 honoured by Ferguson in St Thomas

105-year-old among 55 honoured by Ferguson in St Thomas

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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SENIOR members of the People's National Party (PNP) in the constituency of St Thomas Eastern have a renewed sense of pride and appreciation after they were honoured for their dedication and service, last Wednesday, by their Member of Parliament Dr Fenton Ferguson.

The ceremony, which was done in a banquet style, honoured 55 senior citizens — inclusive of two centenarians and an individual following closely behind in the nineties age bracket.

Dorothy Lee, still batting at 105 years, told the Jamaica Observer she felt happy to be awarded for her service to the PNP and also to nation building.

Lee, a mother of 12, hails from Manchester, but spent her growing years in Winchester, St Thomas. Accompanied by her 23-year-old granddaughter Oshene Gilbert, she responded confidently to queries about her activism in politics and role as community matriarch.

Lee said: “I remember early days of the PNP and campaigning, remember Michael Manley when he was a minister too. But, I remember how I used to work hard, take care of my pickni dem and grand pickni dem. [I] clear manure in a rain, carry out stick a bush, and do my small farming.”

Her words drew a soft smile from Gilbert, who also added that her fondest memories of her grandmother include her as a farmer and staunch disciplinarian who took care of her lineage and other children in the community.

“I come see my grandmother as a small farmer when I was younger. She used to grow yam, plantain and raise animals like pigs, goats and chicken. She took care of us when my mother had to go out and work. She help raise a whole heap of us grandchildren and people's children. Is she I mostly grow with, and I admire everything about her,” Gilbert said.

Lee, who enjoys steamed fish, yams, boiled bananas and fruits, expressed her disappointment with crime levels locally and used the same breath to encourage youngsters to obtain an education.

“Jamaica a gwaan bad now. Tek yuh education. When I was younger I send dem [children] a school [and] some a dem never wah tek it in, and now dem well want it and cyaa get it. I tell dem doe come batter like me, but them wouldn't tek education. Some a dem send go school and dem go siddung a road an come back and seh school gate lock. Some a dem want it now and cya get it. Get yuh education,” Lee said, while expressing that she was happy to have been awarded.

Gilbert, shared similar sentiments and expressed that her grandmother made sure they had the right principles growing up, espressing her excitement at her grandmother receiving a “well deserved” award.

Dr Ferguson lauded the awardees for their commitment to service, and made special mention of Lee whom he said would have witnessed a lot of historic moments locally.

“I want to thank you, not just on my behalf, but for those who would have served the party and the leaders of the party from 1944 until now. Comrade Lee at 105 would have been there from the beginning of Universal Adult Suffrage. She would have been there at a time when Marcus Mosiah Garvey would have been active, and there are several other Comrades who are being honoured today, persons from in the trade union movement, who are with us this afternoon,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition and PNP President Dr Peter Phillips, who delivered the main address, lauded Lee and two other individuals for their contribution and sacrifice to communities.

“Comrade Dorothy Lee and Comrade Bryan have crossed the 100 mark and are still going on, and Lucille Blake is 90 and moving on. Thank you for your contribution to your country and for your loyalty to the PNP over these many years. Silver and gold cannot buy that commitment because it is a commitment that comes from the heart and is something divinely inspired. You represent the link between the past and the present, and you are the bearers of the dreams of the future,” Dr Phillips said.

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